Let’s start with the obvious: no one likes their ATS. Like airlines, wireless service, or cable companies, there are no good choices, only a least horrible choice. This necessary evil was once the best way to manage and track a candidate through the interview process, but in the last 15 years, everyone’s ATS has grown arms, reaching into so many aspects of how we attempt to attract and engage talented prospects.
Sadly, none of these new functions are any good, but because we’ve invested in the expensive core ATS, we assume we need to use all the functions (the fallacy of sunk costs strikes again). This means that every candidate is forced to wade through a system designed specifically for HR professionals. Just because your ATS has a web-enabled front-end doesn’t mean candidates will enjoy using it. If you don’t believe me, ask them.
Your investment in an ATS has forced you to spend the last decade bending all your processes toward how your ATS wants you to do things. Way back when people would mail you resumes in order to apply for a job, they never saw your internal tools. They never saw how you made the sausage. They only knew the relationship they built with the recruiter and hiring manager — human relationships focused on establishing fit. Has putting the ATS in charge of those relationships made them weaker, or stronger? I would bet real money that the ATS is not supporting that relationship in any meaningful way, with a second bet that it makes things worse.
If you were to start with a clean sheet of paper and re-think your talent attraction and engagement processes from scratch, would you ever let your prize prospect, one you’ve spent time, effort, and money on, anywhere near an ATS? Of course not. That would be relationship poison.